Villanova traveled to Providence and #24 Creighton this past weekend. Villanova was taken down in three sets by Providence on Friday, 25-21, 25-20 and 25-19 and lost in three sets to Creighton, 25-19, 25-17 and 25-18.
Villanova came into Providence having won four of its last five matches, while the Friars were 13-8 but had just lost their last two matchups.
At the beginning of the first set, the game was close, as the Friars led 9-6. However, it didn’t take long for Providence to take control of the set, getting ahead 20-9. Villanova started to charge its way back, winning seven straight points thanks to two kills from sophomore hitter Riley Homer, before the run was halted by a kill from Providence’s Emma Fink. Villanova brought the game closer, pulling to within two points at 22-20, but Providence went on a 3-1 run to end the set, 25-21. Homer led the Wildcats with four kills, while Fink finished with five for Providence.
The second set was a lot closer than the first. Villanova took the first point but never held the lead again, although the Wildcats never went away either, tying the game on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until Providence went on a 4-0 run to make it 23-18 that the Friars finally gained some breathing room, and despite a couple of points from ‘Nova, the Friars won the set, 25-20, and took a 2-0 lead in the match.
Shaliyah Rhoden led the Friars in the set with five kills, while Homer and freshman outside hitter Rose Crist each had four kills for the Wildcats. Villanova had a better hitting percentage this set than Providence, with the Wildcats finishing with 14 kills and three assists, while Providence had 13 kills and three assists.
Villanova held an 8-7 lead in the third set of this match, but Providence went on a 7-0 run to take the 14-8 lead. Although Villanova was able to tighten it up at 22-17, a costly service error took away the Wildcats’ momentum and allowed the Friars to win the match, 25-19.
Six different players got a kill for Providence in the third set with Sasha Rudich and Maryanne Boyle leading with two. Crist had five kills in the third set for the ‘Cats. Errors proved to be critical, as Villanova made nine in the final set.
Crist led Villanova with 11 kills in the game, while Rhoden led the Friars with 10. Villanova fell to 12-9 and Providence improved to 14-8.
On Sunday, Villanova made the long trip to Omaha to face a Creighton team ranked 24th in the country, making it the second ranked team Villanova has faced this season. However, head coach Josh Steinbach refused to change his approach despite a tough opponent.
“If you make it different, then it’s hard,” Steinbach said. “We just treat them like any other team.”
However, the Bluejays quickly showed their quality. In the first set, Creighton went on a 5-0 run to take a 6-3 lead and held the lead the rest of the way despite a late push by Villanova to make it 18-16. Creighton finished the set on a 7-3 run, and Ellie Bolton finished it with a spike, ending the set in favor of the Bluejays, 25-19.
Villanova hit only .030 in the set on 33 hits, while Creighton hit .128 on 31 hits.
The second set was back-and-forth with three lead changes, but Creighton went on a 4-0 run to take a 13-11 lead and never looked back. The Wildcats kept it close, only being down 21-17, but ultimately another 4-0 run by Creighton won them the set, 25-17.
Creighton’s Norah Sis led the Bluejays with four kills and two blocks in the set. Crist led the Wildcats with four kills.
The Bluejays took over quickly in the final set, taking a 17-3 lead. However, Villanova was able to fight back from the depths, going on a 13-5 run behind kills from junior Kathleen Johnson and sophomore middle blocker Kiera Booth. The Wildcats brought it to within 22-16, but Creighton finally sealed the match, winning the set, 25-18.
Johnson led the Wildcats with four kills in the last set, while Creighton was led by Sis and Keeley Davis, with two kills apiece.
Crist and Sis each led their respective teams with nine kills each, while Villanova’s Belle Morgan had 17 assists and 11 digs.
Villanova dropped to 12-10 while Creighton continued its upward climb in the rankings with a record of 20-3. Villanova heads back home to face Seton Hall (11-3) on Friday and St John’s (13-11) on Saturday. The Wildcats sit in seventh in the conference, two games behind fourth placed Butler, with eight games remaining in the season.